The Frieze Art Fair

The first public day of the Frieze Art Fair was, as always, brimming with art enthusiasts, spectators and London’s cream of the crop. A long, beautiful queue of ladies and gents suited up in Chanel, Balenciaga and other fashionable eccentricities awaited me as I walked up to the Regent’s Park entrance. Flicking my gaze up and down the queue was similar to flicking through the pages of The Sartorialist. The Frieze Art Fair has gained a cult following from art collectors, oligarchs and high-powered socialites from around the world, despite only being 9 years old.

Its preview day (12th October) saw the long legs of Elle Macpherson grace the block stalls, as well as Matt Lucas, Dasha Zhukova (although sadly her partner Roman Abramovich was not present), Joseph Fiennes and Valentino.

Walking through the maze of stalls and installations, I saw a white goat sitting in a pose similar to Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’, a portrait of a girl drawn in cigarettes, tops of Crush cans and coffee stains, Abraham Lincoln stuck in a meat shop with a knife and butcher’s apron, a smoking child, a wall of gum (similarities between this wall of art and the Romeo and Juliet wall in Venice were too obvious to not be intentional), an ape reaching up to get his banana, a sexual orgy of dollies in a dollhouse, an autopsy morgue, Tracy Emin’s depressing ‘You made ME love you’ neon sign and Raymond Pettibon’s cheeky ink drawings. I found my interest being piqued by a macabre art piece propped up against a wall. It consisted of a chair, a painting and a Virgin Mary figure (with baby Jesus) atop a dresser. Baby Jesus’ eyes bore down into you with menace as a bloody squid-like creature erupts from his mouth. No wonder White Cube (who curated this piece of art) is the talk of Frieze this year – Jake and Dinos Chapman’s ‘The Milk of Human Weakness II’ is astoundingly grotesque, a real conversation starter. Later on that day, the Chapmans’ piece was once again mentioned at the launch of the White Review’s third issue.

‘The Milk of Human Weakness II’, Jake and Dinos Chapman, 2011

Other notable pieces included Andra Ursata’s ‘Crush’ (seen above in feature photograph), a life-size metal woman, crushed, literally, to the ground. Human bodies seemed to be a theme this year (remember the morgue? There was a wax lady in there too); some of them were so life-like it was startling. On the other hand, Pierre Huyghes’ ‘Recollection’, commissioned by Frieze for this year’s fair, dealt with aquatic life. This live installation features a large, tomato-red hermit crab with a bronze cast of Brancusi’s ‘Sleeping Muse’ attached to its back. It lives in a softly lit tank with other tiny arrow/spider crabs and some artfully arranged rocks.

Pierre Huyghe's 'Recollection', 2011
Pierre Huyghe’s ‘Recollection’, 2011

There’s a lot of other stuff to do/see at Frieze too. An interesting talk commenced in the auditorium just after lunch time (served up by Hix, Gail’s, Moshi Moshi and other culinary pop-ups around the venue): a debate on photojournalism and art by artist Taryn Simon (whose exhibition ‘A Living Man Declared Dead’ can be seen at the Tate Modern until January) and photographic team Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. Other talks throughout the fair include ‘On Television’, a four person talk on the weak relationships between contemporary art and television (Sunday at 1:30pm).

Critics have railed against Jankowski’s controversial ‘yacht’, which could be yours for a cool €65 million. Except, for that price, you’d only be buying the boat and could only use it as a boat. Pay an extra €10 million and you can declare it as a piece of art – ‘The Finest Art on Water’ – certificate intact and all.

There’s still three full days left at the Frieze Art Fair, so book your tickets quick! All tickets included auditorium talks, specially commissioned Frieze films and plenty of art literature (Frieze magazine, The Art Newspaper). For virgin Frieze attenders, there are special tours (in many different languages) throughout the day, but you do have to book these – they fill up very quickly.

Book tickets here

All photographs courtesy of Linda Nylind for Frieze.

Ysabelle Cheung

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